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The Bizarre Facts About Tardigrades

Batul Nafisa Baxamusa May 8, 2019
Tardigrades are called as ‘water bears’ that are supposed to be indestructible. There are more than 1,000 species of tardigrades discovered. They are tiny, microscopic creatures who are tough-skinned (quite literally!).

About Tardigrades

They are aquatic micro-animals found almost everywhere. Tardigrades are found in the deep sea, mountain tops, tropical rainforests, as well as the Antarctic. You will find tardigrades living in any moist place, sediments in the bottom of a lake. They feed on bacteria as well as aquatic plants such as moss. Know some more bizarre facts about tardigrades

Different Names

Tardigrades are cute, squishy, and tubby looking creatures. They are known by different names such as water bears and moss piglets. Their scientific name is Milnesium tardigradum. The term Tardigrada means ‘slow steppers’.

Miniature Size

The tardigrade is an 8-legged, segmented animal. A full-grown tardigrade size is just about 0.5 millimeter in length. They are short and stubby with four pairs of legs. They have claws or sucking disks at the end of the legs.

Earth or Space, They Survive

Tardigrades were subjected to an experiment where dehydrated tardigrades were exposed to vacuum and solar radiation of outer space for 10 days. When they were brought back to earth and rehydrated, it was found that 68% of those shielded from radiation came back to life and a few with no radiation protection too came back to life and could procreate.

Survive Extreme Conditions

Tardigrades can easily adapt to different atmospheric conditions. They can undergo cryptobiosis, that is, ‘hidden life’. They tend to dry up like husks and shut down their metabolism. Their metabolism is brought down to 0.01% and they enter a death-like state. When revived, most of them just return to their normal life.

They Have Sharp Teeth

Within their tubular mouth, there is a set of sharp dagger-like teeth that helps tardigrades latch on to other living organisms and moss. They feed on bacteria, plant cells, as well as other small animals.

They Laugh at Gamma Radiations

Tardigrades can survive extreme radiation doses. The lethal dose of Gamma radiations that can kill tardigrades is 5,000 Gy. In case of heavy ions, tardigrade can survive up to 6,200 Gy. If you compare this dose with humans a mere 5 to 10 Gy can prove to be lethal.
Tardigrades are definitely super survivors. They are extremotolerant creatures who, according to experts may survive the end of the earth. Basically, this ancient, microscopic creature with a lineage of 540 million to 100 million years is the only one that can hope to outlive us all.